My Dangerous Scarcity Mindset

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

This morning I would like to invite you to join me on a journey. It is my personal journey as a white male living in rural Maryland and it is not complete. It is a journey of questions, self-reflection, and discovery. It is not a judgement of anyone, but rather an opportunity to share my own internal wrestling match in hopes that it can help someone else.

Black Lives Matter. It is a phrase that has become a lightning rod in many ways. I remember hearing it for the first time and thinking it seemed exclusionary and divisive. Yes, Black Lives Matter, but so do White Lives, Latino Lives, Asian Lives, Blue Lives and so on. Shouldn’t we be proclaiming All Lives Matter instead of only shining light on the value of one people group, I thought. Doesn’t this create a greater chasm between people than what already exists?

This was my thought process until recently. However, following the killing of George Floyd and the unrest that has followed, I have forced myself to ask some hard questions. Why does the phrase Black Lives Matter offend me, or at the very least why do I assume it is meant to divide? Why do I assume saying Black Lives Matter means All Lives do not Matter?

As I self-reflected the word “scarcity” entered my mind. Scarcity is generally thought of as the limited availability of resources. We typically think of it in the tangible sense such as a lack of food or money. Scarcity can sometimes lead to positive results evidenced by the business phrase, “scarcity drives innovation.” In other words, scarcity sometimes forces you to discover a new way of doing something because you have no other choice.

However, there is another type of scarcity, a scarcity that lives inside our mind. This is the scarcity with which I have been grappling and it is dangerous.

If I am honest, Black Lives Matter bothered me because I was living with a scarcity mindset. I, somewhere in my subconscious, believed there was a limited supply of significance and value. For Black lives to matter, my life would have to matter less. I was viewing it as a Zero-Sum Game. For their lives to gain significance my life would have to lose significance. Houston, we have a problem.

The trouble with this mindset is it flies in the face of what I say I believe at my core. It is contradictory to my belief that God created us all equal and with equal value and significance. If I believe in a God who desires the best for us and created us to live lives of value and significance, I cannot believe the supply of value and significance is somehow limited. I cannot believe in a tiered system of value and significance. I cannot believe it is a Zero-Sum Game. God is a God of abundance, not scarcity, and created an abundant supply of value and significance.

This has brought new meaning to Martin Luther King’s quoting of the Declaration of Independence in his famous “I Have a Dream” Speech. King said, “I still have a dream. It is deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” If I claim to agree with these words, I cannot live with a scarcity mindset when it comes to the value of people’s lives. By saying Black Lives Matter it does not mean my life matters any less. There is enough significance for all of us.

Why not say “All Lives Matter” if they are all of equal significance? The unfortunate answer is, for generations, we as a world have lived with a scarcity mindset, and degraded and underestimated the value and significance of Black lives. As I have gone on this journey of learning about the roots and history of racism, I have been saddened by what I have discovered. The narrative promoting the inferiority of Black people has been a part of society for longer than I ever imagined. This has shaped our world and impacted the value attributed to Black lives. For us to one day be able to say “All Lives Matter Equally” we need to bring the value of Black lives up to their rightful, God-created place.

This is why I can now say Black Lives Matter and feel no offense. All Lives do matter and if that is true we need to eliminate our scarcity mindset and be willing to lift up the values of Black Lives without fearing anyone else’s life will somehow matter less. We need to shed light on how we have undervalued Black Lives so that we can equally value All Lives.

– James Belt

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